Laura Mvula – “Phenomenal Woman” (Singles Going Steady)

You have to give it to Laura Mvula; her vocal chops are second to none.

Pryor Stroud: Laura Mvula sings in concentrated whirlwinds of sorrows and dreamscapes and untempered howls of poetic revelation, a fact that is never more present than in the rushing-through-the-bloodstream chorus of “Phenomenal Woman.” It’s a chorus that seems to knock the air out of your lungs, only for you to realize that it is Mvula who is belting toward breathlessness, not you. But her artistry seeps through the track as a whole. The production is a rich nu-soul mosaic of hopscotch R&B and Janelle Monáe-esque afrofuturist funk, and the verse showcases Mvula’s vocal versatility. In short, “Phenomenal Woman” should increase anticipation for The Dreaming Room tenfold. [9/10]

Emmanuel Elone: You have to give it to Laura Mvula; her vocal chops are second to none. The British singer brings a lot of drive on “Phenomenal Woman”, especially during the chorus. The tight percussive groove is nice, and highlights the beauty of Mvula’s voice even further. Having said that, there was not much about this song that was particularly interesting or captivating, even though Mvula is singing her heart out. This is quite possibly due to the instrumental which, while decent, is a bit too subdued for my taste. Still, “Phenomenal Women” is a decent tune with a positive message, and should not be overlooked. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: Whether or not this is a tribute to the Maya Angelou poem of the same name, I can’t tell. I like the aggressive, confident beat — reminiscent of old-school Prince — and Mvula’s got a great voice. The song itself is nothing much, but the way it’s arranged and the general in-your-face vibe of the whole thing make me think that maybe this is a grower that I’ll learn to love more. [6/10]

Chad Miller: I feel like I’d enjoy the melodies more had the accompaniment been different. The background singing just didn’t seem to fit the chorus vocals in the piece. I feel like there’s a lot of potential here, but nothing had that big of an effect on me here except the spoken “You are phenomenal woman” section. [6/10]

Laura Mvula‘s The Dreaming Room will release 17 June 2016 via RCA.

SCORE: 6.75